August 14 2021: Iraqi government promises to build three mental health centers

This week’s highlights

  • School for teen mothers in Kenya gets support
  • Iraqi government promises to build three mental health centers
  • Have you reserved your seats at Night For Rights? 
  • Webinar: COVID-19 & the triple threat of poverty, inequality and unemployment in South Africa

 School for teen mothers in Kenya gets support

 Greenland Girls’ staff and students pose with visitors at the school – Photo courtesy GGS’s Facebook page

A school for teen mothers in Kenya’s Kajiado County, Greenland Girls Schoolhas received a boost in publicity and numerous pledges of support after journalist and JHR trainee Moraa Obiria interviewed its founder and CEO Purity Gikunda whom she met at a roundtable organized for civil society organizations by JHR’s Canada World: Voice for Women and Girls’ Rights (VWGR) program. 

In an article published in Nation Africa on July 23, Obiria and her co-author Charles Wanyoro describe the culture of discrimination against teenage mothers in mainstream Kenyan schools despite the enactment of national policies supporting their education, and highlight Greenland Girls as a rare, special school that “offers hope to teenage mothers”.  

Speaking about her school’s feature in the article, Gikunda said, “Seeing an article published in a leading newspaper the Daily Nation was a joy. There was even more joy when I started receiving calls from organizations and individuals who pledged to support my school because we depend on donations to educate the girls and for their babies. I have already received a call that soon we will get sanitary pads donated to us. All of this is happening because of the Nation story.” 

Gikunda says the school’s intake has also increased: “Many parents have started bringing their girls who are pregnant or gave birth to our school. I am happy they got to know there is a school that could give them a chance to continue with their education after early motherhood.” Read Gikunda’s full statement here


Iraq Ministry of Health announces
plan to build three mental health centres

Iraqi citizens have lived through four decades of wartime – and now a pandemic – with scant resources for mental health. As an article in Ayn Al-Iraq News by JHR-trained journalist Ja’afar Ali revealed,  Al-Rashad Psychiatric Hospital in Baghdad is the only mental health facility in Iraq and has received little to no support from the government after it was built 60 years ago. 

In the article, a member of the parliamentary committee on health admitted that mental health has not been a priority for the Iraqi government; however, he promised to push the government to allocate a portion of the federal budget to mental health care. 

In response to the JHR-supported story, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has announced a plan to build three centers for mental health in Iraq, adding that the ministry has also communicated directly with the cabinet to increase funding for the capacity-building of specialized medical staff and the overall development of the mental health care sector.

Help us continue this essential awareness-building work through JHR’s Mobilizing Media to Fight COVID-19 (MMFC) program. When journalists shine the light on human rights abuses and injustices, it leads to actual, life-changing impact. 

The above stories are part of the Mobilizing Media to Fight COVID-19 project funded by 

Have you reserved your seats
at Night For Rights 2021?

JHR is holding its annual Night for Rights gala dinner and party at the Brickworks Pavilion in Toronto on October 20, 2021, from 6pm to 8pm.  This year, mindful of potential public health concerns, we’re also offering our supporters the opportunity to join the party online with a fabulous virtual experience in the works!

Thank you to the Fisher family, Delaney family, Shelly Meadows, and our numerous other supporters for purchasing tables and tickets at the early bird rate. Tickets continue to sell fast and are available for purchase at at $1000 for a ticket and $8000 for a table of up to 8 seats.

We look forward to seeing you on October 20!

Webinar replay: COVID-19 & the triple
threat of inequality, poverty and
unemployment in South Africa

Last week, JHR’s MMFC program brought together a panel of economic experts to share their analysis of the South African government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and where course correction is needed.  

The panel was moderated by journalist and JHR media trainer Azola Dayile, and featured data-packed presentations by Nicholas Ngepah, Professor of Economics at the University of Johannesburg and Isobel Frye, Director of the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute (SPII).

Professor Ngepah said that the government-imposed lockdowns were not effective in controlling the spread of COVID-19 or preventing deaths due to the virus — and that better international border management was needed. He added that lockdowns led to greater suffering of poorer citizens due to rising food prices, malnutrition and higher infant mortality rates, and suggested that the government create work opportunities close to the homes of poor citizens in order to effectively restrict the movement of the population during the pandemic. 

Isobel Frye unpacked the government aid program (Social Relief of Aid (SRoD) grants) and made several recommendations for its improvement, notably that having short-term employment should not disqualify citizens from receiving social assistance. Watch the full webinar here.

Search articles

Subscribe to the JHR newsletter

Explore topics


The Democratic Republic of Congo Tunisia Pakistan Morocco South Sudan Lithuania Latvia Poland Kenya Canada Iraq Afghanistan Lebanon Mali Turkey

Your donations help fund the work we do